John's Horror Banana-nanza Episode Eighteen : Texas Chainsaw Massacre (The Series)
This is a tough one to do, because reviewing this series is like reviewing six separate series. There are a lot of big name actors in these movies, a lot of rehashing of plots, and most importantly, a lot of cannibalism.
The story is supposed to revolve around a family in Texas that kills people and eats them, and the main antagonist is Leatherface. However, after the first two movies, Leatherface joins another family. Then another, then one more for good measure. I think it's time I laid out for you the insanity and inconsistency that is Texas Chainsaw Massacre.
Here's the ranking, and it is, in my opinion, pretty obvious.
6. Texas Chainsaw Massacre 4 : The Next Generation
5. Texas Chainsaw Massacre : The Beginning
4. Leatherface : Texas Chainsaw Massacre 3
3. Texas Chainsaw Massacre (2003)
2. Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2
1. Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1973)
Texas Chainsaw Massacre 4 : The Next Generation
I think I rambled on about this one for a decent amount of time earlier. It is, without a doubt, one of the worst horror movies ever put on film. It's almost inexcusable. Renee Zellweger and her friends are out after the prom, and Leatherface's family, the Sawyers, show up and cause chaos. It is not bloody, not funny, not interesting at all. Although, I will say that this might be the only movie that Matthew McConaughey is in where he doesn't act like a complete jackass. That might be due to the fact that he is, indeed, supposed to be EXACTLY THAT, but his acting is atrocious. It is a steaming pile of crap.
Texas Chainsaw Massacre : The Beginning
So Leatherface's horrible existence began in a garbage can. Who gives a shit? R. Lee Emery reprises his role as Mr. Hewitt, the town sheriff. (Yes, it explains how he got that title, and I can assure you, he wasn't voted in.) Basically it's the remake remade, with a slightly different ending. If you think you're going to learn anything about Leatherface's character or psyche, you don't. I'm sure that might have been the intention, but it fails. He doesn't even really use the chainsaw all that much until the final few scenes. This movie is a garbled mess with all kinds of holes and there is an obvious rushed feel to it, trying to capitalize on the previous film's success.
Leatherface : Texas Chainsaw Massacre 3
This movie is strange in every sense of the word. We get horror veteran Bill Butler giving a great performance, and Viggo Mortensen does a fantastic job as Tex, the main villain in Leatherface's new family, the Sawyers. Leatherface is referred to as "Junior" in this movie and has a little sister too. Like I said, the movie is weird, and some survivalist named Benny runs around trying to kill the family too. There's a saw with some phrase about "The Saw is Family" written on it...really, it's a tough movie to explain, but not the worst in the series. Other than the extremely poor lighting, definitely worth at least one viewing.
Texas Chainsaw Massacre (2003)
This movie is an attempt to rehash the 1973 movie with a hotter cast and Michael Bay, wrecker of all things good, at the helm. It began the horror remake craze, and probably did the best job. That doesn't mean it's a good movie though. R. Lee Emery does a great job at being the crazed sheriff, and Jessica Biel does a good job just looking good. There's not much material for her other than running around with a white shirt on. There are some genuinely good moments in this movie. Sherriff Hoyt and Morgan's encounter comes to mind. Really, Jonathan Tucker steals the show as Morgan. The movie's not all bad, but it really lacked the visceral punch the first movie had.
Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2
Remember how I said 3 was messed up? This one is off the charts. The Sawyer's keep winning chili competitions in Texas, and they use the bodies that Leatherface collects to make the meat for the chili. All the sudden, Dennis Hopper shows up with mini chainsaws and tries to kill them off. Bill Mosely shows up as a crazy hippie with a plate in his head that he scratches it with a hot clothes hanger. And Leatherface goes through the motions of sex with his chainsaw to the local DJ. All in all, Tobe Hooper knew what he was doing when he made this movie. He was trying to change the direction of the series, making this one more laughable and lighthearted, but still brutal, thanks to special effects master Tom Savini. If you're expecting dark, horrifying material, go with the first one. This one's creepy, but not in the way you'd think.
Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1973)
Tobe Hooper nailed the horror genre with this movie. It's easily his best work. A group of teens are going to see their grandfather's grave. They get sidetracked and wonder into the Sawyer house, where Leatherface kills them one by one, until only Sally remains. And believe me, I guarantee she wishes she was dead. The dinner scene with Grampa is absolutely dreadful and brilliant. The whole atmosphere is heavy and dark, and brooding. I don't know, other than the movie "Henry : Portrait of a Serial Killer" if a movie has ever used the atmosphere so well to its advantage. An absolute classic of the horror genre.